The players weren’t even dry yet from their traditional locker room water-splashing celebration when the page was already in hand and ready to turn.
Hey, Virginia. Nice win over Miami, but you got North Carolina coming to your place in five days.
“We’re going to have to find a way to do it somehow,” UVa receiver Darius Jennings said Saturday afternoon following the Cavaliers’ dramatic 41-40 victory over the Hurricanes. “It is a short week. We’re coming off a great win, but this is a business. We have to turn around and just prepare and work hard, treat it like a normal week.”
But it isn’t.
The Wahoos (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will host the Tar Heels (6-4, 3-3) at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, at Scott Stadium. It’ll be an ESPN special as the nation will turn to Charlottesville with curious eyes.
They likely caught the highlights from the Miami win (Jake McGee’s 10-yard game-winning touchdown catch came in at No. 4 on Sunday’s SportsCenter Top Plays), and they’re wondering if this late-season momentum can keep going.
Even more reason for Virginia to make sure it has planned accordingly for UNC.
“Quick, really quick,” senior linebacker LaRoy Reynolds said during a Monday press conference at John Paul Jones Arena of how fast his team had to change its thoughts to the Heels. “You could feel it yesterday when you had to go lift. [It was] just a quick turnaround. As soon as the game was over, you’re like, ‘All right, North Carolina.’
“It’s like a tournament, a four-game playoff. The only thing you can do is think about the next game. I think our mindset was, ‘We’re going to get after it. We’re going to get after it Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.’ That’s what we’re going to do.”
Virginia was in this position last October. After a Saturday, Oct. 22, loss to N.C. State, the Wahoos had to hit the road for a Thursday, Oct. 27, game with Miami.
With a cram session in scouting, they won, 28-21, at Sun Life Stadium.
This year, they’ll get the friendly confines of Scott Stadium.
“I definitely think there’s a little bit of an advantage,” said senior linebacker Steve Greer. “You get a couple extra hours where you don’t have to travel. I think that’s a big aspect, especially on a Thursday game when preparation is huge when you’re limited.
“We’re going to have to take advantage of that.”
Just three weeks ago, Michael Rocco stood on the sideline, not seeing any game action, during UVa’s offensively challenged 16-10 loss to Wake Forest.
Now, he’s the reigning ACC offensive back of the week.
The junior quarterback earned the honor on Monday after throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the dramatic Miami victory.
Funny game, this football.
“You can always look back and try to second-guess yourself,” Virginia head coach Mike London said of the Wahoos’ season-long back-and-forth quarterback situation, “but as I said before, both of those players, Michael and Phillip [Sims] made it easy because they’re selfless players. They’re not selfish guys; they want what’s best for the team.
“As we go into this [North Carolina] game, both quarterbacks will play because that seems to be a formula that’s been successful for us right now.”
It’s a combination that’s hardly pre-calculated.
London said Monday that the two-signal caller system, one that was first displayed during the 33-6 win over N.C. State just over a week ago, isn’t planned out by series before game-time.
“It’s random,” London said. “It’s random, the guys we play. It’s random who goes, the next player that goes in the game.
“But there’s no, ‘You go one series, you go two series.’ It’s based on where we are, what kind of (plays are) made in the previous series, things like that.”
Since the switch to the QB duo attack, Rocco has completed 41 of 60 passing attempts for 383 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Sims is 19 of 24 for 203 yards with one score and no picks. He’s also run for a pair of touchdowns.
Each quarterback has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, making 2012 the first year such a feat has occurred at UVa since 2001 when Matt Schaub and Bryson Spinner turned the trick.
Rocco wasn’t the only celebrated individual from Saturday’s win.
Freshman cornerback Maurice Canady was named ACC co-defensive back of the week after his performance against Miami.
Canady, getting his second straight start, made nine tackles, broke up a pass, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. The Richmond native earned the same accolade last week after he recorded a pick and registered seven tackles against N.C. State.
Harold situation explained
At 6:14 p.m, last Thursday, Virginia released its injury report, announcing that Cavalier freshman defensive end Eli Harold would be out for the Miami game with an undisclosed “medical” issue.
Minutes before kickoff on Saturday, however, another UVa report was made public, stating that Harold was cleared to play.
From no-go to full-go? How did that happen?
London explained the unique situation during his Sunday teleconference.
“Without getting too much into detail about it, basically there were some migraine issues with him,” London said. “Not knowing until basically gameday how he was, was his ability to be fully functional. That’s basically the gist of it. He was cleared.
“At first, the headaches were such that it didn’t appear that he was able to play. And then as gameday approached, and the morning of it, he was cleared.”
The talented 6-foot-4, 225-pounder contributed against the Hurricanes with one tackle, “playing like 30-some reps, which is maybe like 20 fewer than what he normally would (get) after being a starter before,” London said.
Harold was substituted in the starting lineup for Ausar Walcott in the UM game. According to Monday’s depth chart, Harold will start the North Carolina contest.